Canada’s most populous province passes climate change law

Carbon trading and a green investment fund underpin Ontario plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2050

Toronto, capital of Ontario (Flickr/Rick Harris)

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Ontario enshrined its carbon-cutting targets in law on Wednesday, along with emissions trading and green investment plans.

Canada’s most populous province, home to 14 million people, aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions 37% from 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

It is establishing a cap-and-trade system for emissions, expected to launch next March and ultimately link up with Quebec and California’s carbon market.

Under the new law, all the proceeds – estimated at US$2 billion a year – will be invested in green initiatives like installing renewable power and insulating buildings.

Environment minister Glen Murray said passing the act “marks the start of the next chapter in Ontario’s transformation to an innovative and prosperous low-carbon economy…

“This legislation is about enshrining in law our resolve and action to protect and strengthen our environment for generations to come.”

Report: Canada delays new climate plan as provinces rebel

Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau promised to rebuild the country’s climate credibility on his election last November.

Under predecessor Stephen Harper, it had pulled out of international treaty the Kyoto Protocol and gone all out for polluting tar sands extraction.

Yet the policies needed to deliver emissions cuts are largely set at provincial level and each has different ideas.

A new government in Alberta pledged to cap tar sands expansion and levy a carbon tax. It continues to support new oil pipelines, however, which critics argue are incompatible with international climate goals.

That debate only intensified as wildfires ravaged Fort McMurray, a town of 80,000 people, in recent weeks. Studies have linked increasingly frequent and severe wildfires with global warming.

Pipeline supporters said they were more necessary than ever in light of the economic blow dealt by the extreme weather, on the other hand.

Meanwhile, administrations of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are proving sceptical of the climate agenda.

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